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Fursuiting and copyright: an important issue for fandom

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New powers to patent animals (including unrealized hybrids that populate furry fiction) burst into the news on 11/13/13, when activist organization Wikileaks revealed a draft of the secret Trans-Pacific Partnership Agreement. Analysts have called it "a major power grab for large patent and copyright industries," with powerful implications for the future of intellectual property.

With a lead like that, I have to apologize for faking you out. I couldn't resist. Now let's do a 180, and turn back to the furry level of life, where copyright concerns are much more personal. Consider this scenario that happened to fursuiters Sakura Fox and Mercury on their trip to New York City:

You're walking through Central Park, and see some panhandlers begging for change. They're wearing badly made, unsightly costumes of Sesame Street characters. You shouldn't hang around them in fursuit, because a pimp Elmo might come smack you off his corner!

Elmo waving a gun and knife It's an unauthorized misuse of trademark for profit. It could make the copyright owners look bad, and they wouldn't like it. It's probably too trivial for them to hear about, or hire lawyers to stop it- but you never know. In a famous 1989 action, Disney forced the removal of murals featuring their characters from three Florida day care centers. It helped earn their "reputation as an extreme copyright hawk -- there's a reason 'Disney lawyer' is a term all its own". (On the more friendly side, consider Hasbro's relationship with Bronies.)

Do you know the difference between copyright and trademarks?

Yes
72% (13 votes)
No
28% (5 votes)
There is no difference
0% (0 votes)
Votes: 18

Fortean Times covers otherkin; member plans documentary

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The British magazine of anomalous phenomena, the Fortean Times, has published a three-page article about otherkin in its January 2012 edition (pp. 44–46). [Arethinn]

The article appears relatively non-controverisal, though some have raised concerns about a full-page spread of the Otherkin Alliance logo, used with credit but without permission.

Meanwhile, Evess Arudem - a member of the otherkin community - seeks to create a fan-sourced documentary, and is soliciting audio and video submissions. [Tsu]

SoFurry loses custom chat after coder copyright claim

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SoFurry lost its custom chat last weekend after a key developer responded to a ban by filing a copyright-based takedown demand. [Conan/vivisector]

Site leader Toumal responded with assurances that a new chat module would be provided, and made a call for donations. A temporary chat has since been implemented.

'Fuzzy Ergo Sum' copyright claim triggers revised edition

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Fuzzy Ergo SumFuzzy Ergo Sum, by Wolfgang Diehr, published in March by Pequod Press (review), is now in a revised Second Edition after a copyright claim.

The novel, intended as a “fourth” Fuzzy novel after H. Beam Piper’s Little Fuzzy, Fuzzy Sapiens, and Fuzzies and Other People, is based on the 1962 Hugo-nominated Little Fuzzy, which entered the public domain in 2006.

Two other Fuzzy novels, William Tuning’s 1981 Fuzzy Bones and Ardath Mayhar’s 1982 Golden Dream: A Fuzzy Odyssey, have been disowned from the Fuzzy canon. However, three months after Fuzzy Ergo Sum was published, Golden Dream publishers Ace Books charged that it was in copyright violation.

Lugaru faces competition from itself on App Store

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Rabbit armorDevelopers of rabbit-based beat-em-up Lugaru HD are battling to get an unauthorized copy removed from the Apple App Store.

iCoder is offering the OS X game for just $1.99. The official verison sells for $9.99. [iDuck/Slashdot]

Gaming blog Kotaku reports that Apple are "looking into what happened", and also hosts a quote from iCoder saying that they "have every legal right to market and sell the software".

The game's code was released under the GPL last May while developers focussed on their new game, Overgrowth; however, for-profit distribution of the game's assets was not authorized. The legality of GPL-licensed code for such apps is also in doubt.

Update (12 Feb): Lugaru HD is now the only version available on the Apple App Store. Wolfire are giving out valid serials to all iCoder purchasers.

Mickey Takes The Witness Stand

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In an amusing clerical error, an Italian court has summoned Mickey Mouse, Donald Duck, Daisy Duck, and Tweety to take the stand in a copyright counterfeit trial.

Lawyers for Disney say that the characters maintain permanent residence in Disneyland and therefore, regretfully, cannot answer the summons. Newsweek has the full story.

Trickster

Comic artist accuses David & Goliath owner of plagiarism

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Comic artist Dave "Shmorky" Kelly has accused artist Todd Goldman - owner of popular merchandising company David & Goliath - of plagiarism.[1] Kelly says Goldman's piece "Dear God Make Everyone Die" (featured in the Gold Digger exhibit at Jack Gallery) was traced from a panel of Kelly's comic, Purple Pussy.

In response, Goldman stated:

" I made a judgment error and did not research the background of this particular submission. My intention was not to copy Mr. Kelly.[2] "

Goldman also stated his intention to issue a formal apology, which Kelly has received, and to donate the proceeds of the sale of the piece to Kelly or a charity of his choice.

Holywood vs. Dvd copying software

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In much a similar battle as file sharing servers have gone through, several major DVD manufacturers are bringing up a lawsuit against manufacturers of software that allows people to copy DVDs to their computer. At stake is the definition of copyright and whether providing the means to potentially infringe on it is illegal, at least in the case of DVDs. I wonder when publishers are going to bring up the same thing with photocopiers?

Copyrighting your Muck Characters?

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Often I see on people's websites, and on popular art galleries pictures of their or others muck or role-play characters. And in most instances they are followed by descriptions similar to 'FluffyWuffieBunniekins Copyright Me, Art Copyright Some Guy I Met Online!!!'. Well, sometimes with real names. But do most people understand what copyright means? Lets answer a few common questions...

A stolen slice of Pi?

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While (re)writing the review of _Life of Pi_ that I promised the kind readers of Flayrah, I was suprised to come across this news story. Martel's story of a hindu boy trapped on a lifeboat with a tiger has been acused of blatently lifting from Brazilian Moacyr Scliar's _Max And the Cats_ which is about... Er... A jewish boy trapped on a lifeboat with a panther.

Martel's reply, "why put up with a brilliant premise ruined by a lesser writer?".

Harlan Ellison fights for Creator's Rights

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Noted science Fiction Author, Harlan Ellison, is spearheading an uphill battle against people illegally posting protected works online. Although he got into the fight to protect his own literary works, this has escalated into an all-out battle for creator's rights everywhere.

Visit harlanellison.com/kick for more information on how you can help fight the good fight.

Furnation down, pending copyright violation investigation

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If you hate folks stealing artwork, direct your attention to Furnation's webpages here (and everywhere where your furry artist on Furnation is). Full info on Furnation's webpage.

Environmental News Service

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Lycos hosts a useful site for people concerned about the environment: ENS, the Environment News Service. Here you can catch up on daily news about the environment, everything from information on the antarctic winds being harnessed for power to possible oil drilling near the Great Barrier Reef. The only annoying thing about this site is that right-clicking on the links will get you an amazing pop-up box about the article being copyrighted. Some of us aren't trying to steal, you know, just trying to avoid evil-nasty frames.